The Civil Society Human Rights Advocacy Platform (CSHRAP) in Liberia has called on the government to adopt a national guideline that will specify the role of state securities in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, amid the observance of the lockdown imposed to stop the spread of the virus.

Reports of violence meted against peaceful citizens by state securities in several parts of the country were recorded. Hence, the group said that while it welcomes the lockdown as a normal trend under the circumstances, the government should adhere to the recommendations of the United Nations Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) regarding the state of emergency declared by the Government of Liberia during the Ebola outbreak.

In a statement signed by the National Secretary-General of the CSHRAP, Adama Dempster, it said, ‘To further ensure a professional response by the security forces, the CSO Platform calls on the Government of Liberia to clearly outline in the guidelines to the police, military, and joint security leadership, to strictly adhere to the United Nations Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials and the Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials during the State of Emergency to provide protection during the [Covid-19] pandemic, to facilitate appropriate response and to avoid social unrest related to basic provisions’.

‘The guideline should further spell out or specify conduct of the central role of state security forces in [Covid-19] response to an enhanced state of emergency directives. (For example, to not have the re-occurrence of state securities and citizens’ standoff like in West Point 2014 Ebola situation)’, they added.

The group also added that the government should ensure that restrictions on public health on public emergency grounds meet requirements of legality, evidence-based necessity, and proportionality and that any restrictions should be clearly defined, well-publicised, and subject to monitoring through the use of public hearings before the lawmakers, national human rights institutions in Liberia, and by independent groups operating without unnecessary restrictions.

Source: Front Page Africa

Photo source: Steve Conover

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